Tag Archives | sleep

Tired of Being Tired? Overcome Disordered Sleep Today!

Photo courtesy of Alyssa L. Miller

As someone who’s been an insomniac for many years, I understand just how important sleep is to all of our body’s functions. My mother tells me that I never slept easily, and, in fact, that I didn’t even sleep through the night until I was four years old. I remember her sitting at my bedside until I fell asleep well into my older childhood years, and I awoke frequently at night, requiring her help to feel tired enough to sleep again. When I did sleep, I was (and still am, periodically) plagued by vivid and disturbing dreams.

When I began to experience some significant health disturbances as an adult, I started looking deeper into my lifelong struggle with sleep and how it was possibly causing some real, serious problems. Not only does disordered sleep exacerbate chronic physical medical conditions, but it can also unleash the dreadful duo of depression and anxiety.

Have you struggled with a mood disorder on your road to happiness?  If so, take a look at your sleep patterns.

For years, psychologists have debated the insomnia/depression connection.  No one argued that they were related, but, much like the chicken or the egg, they couldn’t agree on which came first. Recent research points to the conclusion that disordered sleep eventually damages the nervous system, leading to a mix of behaviors and body chemistry that causes depression.

In a bizarre twist, insomnia is thought to be the body’s last ditch attempt at staving off an attack of depression that you aren’t even aware is approaching. Staying awake too long overstimulates the brain and releases a rush of serotonin and dopamine.  Eventually, however, the brain reaches its capacity for self-stimulation, and this is when we crash and burn.

Being overly tired will suck the happiness right out of anyone and can cause problems with memory, thought processing, negotiating, and making good decisions. These are all skills that are crucial for our overall success and happiness in life!

If you have a messed up sleep clock like I do, it’s not something that you can magically cure, but since your happiness is your responsibility, take charge of your disordered sleep as much as you can. I now make a valiant effort to go to bed at the same time every night, even if I don’t want to, and I don’t allow myself to sleep in (too often) on the weekends. This helps keep my circadian rhythm more balanced.

At night, turn the temperature in your bedroom down further than you normally do, because an overheated body will wake up. Many sleep experts will tell you not to eat anything too close to bedtime, but I find that being hungry keeps me awake too. A healthy dinner and a small snack a few hours before bed usually works well.

If you haven’t already begun practicing mindfulness, now is the time. Progressive relaxation, a component of mindfulness, is a fantastic way to drift into sleep. In fact, being mindful in all areas of your life will lead to more restful sleep because you won’t be plagued by the worries you used to have.

Some other things that have helped me sleep better are: white noise, investing in a high quality mattress and pillow, room darkening shades, aromatherapy, wearing unrestrictive clothing, regular exercise, and reading.

If all else fails, remember that you have every right to see a doctor. As we’ve learned, insomnia is a serious matter if left unattended, and if professional help is what you need to get back on track, don’t hesitate to get it. Remember that taking charge of your journey to happiness sometimes means asking for help along the way.

Until next time - happy dreams, everyone.

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How to Wake Up on the Right Side of the Bed

Is there anything more painful than waking up on the wrong side of the bed?  I can think of a couple, but they all involve the dentist.  We wake up every day, but few of us know the right way to wake up.  How we wake up sets the tone for the next 12+ hours and determines whether we accomplish anything, so you want to be sure you do this right!

This is easy when you’ve spent the night dreaming that you’re touring with your favorite band and are looking forward to a day at the beach … but what do you do when you wake up with a stiff back and a temper?

First, know that even successful people wake up grumpy, so don’t let a temporary state of being ruin your day.  Second, an alarm clock is useless when you’re half-dead.  Historically, I’ve relied on 2 alarm clocks, not because they work but out of a desperate hope that they would.  I’ve since learned that even a cattle prod can’t get me moving unless I’m in the right frame of mind.

Here are some tricks for overcoming this small but important hurdle in your day:

1. What are you grateful for?  Before you leave the bed, pump yourself up.  Tell yourself why you and your life rock.  Don’t overlook the small things – if having sushi for lunch will make your day, mention it.  If you’re dreading something, spin it in a positive light: “I have that project due today, but I have great coworkers who will help me, and then after work I’m going for a walk.”

2. Welcome your body back to the waking world.  Invest in nice sheets.  When you wake up, really touch and feel them, and as you do so, become more and more aware of your body, especially your feet and hands.  This helps energize your body and is more soothing than an alarm clock.  The wall next to my bed has a very pebbly texture, so I’ll press my hand against it to feel it.  It’s a gentle way of reminding my body that I’m waking up.

3. Movement is key.  If you’re feeling grumpy, trick your body by jumping out of bed and dancing across the room, or at least changing up your footsteps.  Do something unexpected to shock yourself out of lethargy, even if it’s a little hopping motion.  If you like music, sing or hum.  Your first steps out of bed can determine your mood for the rest of the day, so make sure they’re good ones.

4. If you can’t change your mood, stay in bed.  It may sound counter intuitive, but if you can’t change how you’re feeling, don’t get up until it shifts.  This may take a while, but it’s better than a bad day.

5. Resist the temptation to invest in a cat.  When it comes to waking you up in the morning, cats are actually more unforgiving than cattle prods.

Remember, waking up well is not done through willpower but a system that supports you and your mood.  Use these cheat codes to build that system for yourself, or create your own.

Today’s post was written by DailyPath reader Carolynn Ananian. Carolynn is an energy healer and teacher of metaphysics.  Based in New Jersey, she travels internationally helping people feel better so they can follow their dreams and leave their mark on the world.

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